Updated: Apr 17, 2020
Going paperless is not just about the need to save the planet. It is about increasing efficiency and productivity. In the professional sense, I have been 100% paperless for the last 4 years and have never looked back.
This post will provide an insight as to how I achieved this, as well as the benefits in day to day working life.
Going paperless is easier than you think. The influx of applications in the Cloud has provided limitless opportunities to shift filing cabinets and physical folders and notepads into the Cloud, ensuring any and all information, notes, documents or files are continuously synchronised and accessible from any device you own.
Setup Document and Notes Repository
Evernote is a fantastic app that provides a workspace to collect, capture and index any form of document or note. The app is available on your desktop (Windows/Mac), and mobile devices and I primarily use it via my iPad Mini. I use Evernote for multiple purposes including:
Using Evernote, I am able to quickly and efficiently capture notes from any meeting I either run or attend. Using a structured note template, I am able to record a vast array of information including text, attachments, images etc. Using Evernote's indexing, tagging and notebook creation features, I can find any note within my library instantly.
In addition to capturing the note, Evernote provides a very useful feature to create to-do lists within the note itself, and setting a reminder. This helps to replace any to-do lists you may have and also add a level of depth to the list to ensure every item has complete context behind it.
Most recently, I met with a company who I was sure I had met a few years ago. By searching for the company's name, I was able to discover exactly when I had met them, who attended the meeting, what was discussed and the outcomes. This is a productivity advantage that a paper notepad and pen can not match.
Another example is instantly reviewing every meeting I have had with my team or manager - all actions, discussion points
Within Evernote, I am able to create notes that contain files or documents. Using a structured template, I am able to file any document for instant search and indexing purposes. Because Evernote will also index the text within the document, this increases the search power fundamentally.
I have used Evernote's Scannable App and document attachment facility to primarily scan and import every paper personal based document within my physical filing cabinet. Documents relating to mortgage, insurance, purchases receipts, subscriptions - you name it its there. Once again, the indexing and search facility means finding that warranty information for your washing machine is accessible from my iPhone anytime, anywhere.
Evernote provides a very useful feature that allows you to create notes via email. By quickly forwarding an email to Evernote's dedicated mailto address, you are able to import that note (including any attachments), tag it, and find the content when needed.
I primarily use this for important emails I want to keep. Email acknowledgement of the flights, hotels or vacations I have booked, or an online purchase I made. Outlook folders are outdated.
Do you have a pile of business cards from people you have met in your bottom draw? I used to, before Evernote. The photo note feature allows you to take a quick snap of the business card via your phone or tablet. Once scanned, Evernote will extract the individual's details into a structured format and automatically connect you to that individiual via LinkedIn.
I recently used this feature at SAP's FKOM in Mexico. I met an individual who was short on business cards, however after scanning his card, automatically extracting the details and connecting with him via LinkedIn in a total of 5 seconds, I was able to hand back his card, save a few trees, and leave him speechless. This is the future!
Destroy all paper
Although before starting a grand paper-burning session in your backyard, digitise all of your documentation first. Traditional scanners have been around for years, but they are clunky to use and not very handy.
Most recently, I have been using Scannable by Evernote in order to quickly scan any received documents. A 10 page document can be scanned in high-quality, automatcally trimmed to size and saved as a PDF directly to your Evernote Notebook in about 2 minutes via your mobile phone or tablet - making the good old scanner redudant for quick scans.
Apps born in the age of the Cloud are now providing features and functionality previously reserved for Enterprise Organisations. The migration to these applications facilitate a behavioural change that is in-tune with Cloud, Social and Digital. It is not just about seeing it, it is about living and breathing it.
Suddenly, that chunky Lenovo laptop may start to look outdated if you are preaching Cloud to millenials. Think about it.
Disclaimer: I do not, and have never worked for Evernote - but I am a premium user and their number one fan!